A committee made up of Kenai River Special Management Advisory Board members and representatives from the Kenaitze Indian Tribe will look at how to best manage a program that will provide cash incentives for boaters to trade in old two-stroke motors for more environmentally friendly four-stroke models.
Brenda Trefon is managing the program for the tribe, which recently received a grant from the Environmental Protecting Agency to administer the program. Trefon asked the board Thursday to help find a fair way to run the program and to come up with criteria to use, such as who would be eligible for the program and when it would begin.
Trefon said that since the tribe received official notice in April that the grant had been finalized, her phone has been ringing off the hook with people wanting to know how to get involved in the program.
"I'm getting a lot of phone calls and interest," she said.
Two-stroke engines produce more in-water pollution than four-strokes do, and it's believed that by reducing the number of two-stroke motors on the river, pollution levels can be reduced. A 2003 Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation study found that as much as 10,000 gallons of fuel enter the Kenai River each summer. When the results of the study were announced, researchers speculated that much of that pollution is due to two-stroke outboards.
Several KRSMA board members volunteered to serve on a committee to come up with guidelines for how best to run the program, which proposes to give $500 vouchers to boaters who trade in their old motors for new ones. The program also could include a manufacturer's matching contribution. Board members Ted Wellman, Jeff King and Jack Sinclair volunteered to serve.
A number of issues must be hammered out before the program can begin. They include determining exactly who would be eligible, what types of motors could be covered and what the timeframe for trading in motors would be.
King said there are likely a number of issues that the committee must address before the program can begin.
"There's a lot of questions," he said.
Trefon said she likely will begin holding committee meetings sometime in late June. Once the committee determines exactly how the program will be run, boaters will be notified and can begin receiving vouchers for the purchase of new motors, likely sometime in the fall or early winter.
The motor trade-in incentive program is just one aspect of the grant. In addition, the tribe will oversee water quality monitoring on the river as well as the second phase of a boat wake study designed to gauge the impact of motorboat wakes on the Kenai River shoreline.
Trefon said that ongoing water quality monitoring is being handled by the Kenai Watershed Forum, while the wake study is being carried out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Trefon said she expects the second phase of the wake study to be completed sometime next year.
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